Wednesday, June 2, 2010 | |

10 questions with author Jon Sprunk.

Jon Sprunk is the author of Shadow's Son, available as of yesterday from Pyr Books. I sat down with this engaging rogue (more like emailed back and forth, but that sounds kind of lame, doesn't it?) and we talked about swords and sorcery, assassins, ideas and so forth. You can, of course, find Jon's book at an excellent independent bookstore near you, or an online one. Here's a link to Amazon as well. Also make sure to check out his blog. Now, onto the questions.

1. What's your story? You know, the "this happened, then this, then this, and then I got the magical phone call and someone told me they wanted my book," story? 

Thanks for taking the time to talk. You want The Story? I had just finished reading Joe Abercrombie's excellent The First Law series, and I emailed Lou Anders at Pyr Books to say how much I enjoyed it. We got to talking and I mentioned (oh-so-casually) that I had a manuscript he might like. He agreed to take a look. The day he emailed me with an offer on Shadow's Son was one of the most exciting in my life.  

2. Your first published novel, Shadow's Son, tells the story of Caim, an assassin. How long did you have this novel in your head prior to getting it down on paper? I guess what I'm getting at is, was the process gradual, taking a number of years like author Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind, or was this something that you came up with and immediately set about writing?

It was a combination of those, actually. I had written a novella-length assassin story about four or five years ago, but never got around to fleshing it out. Then, one day I got an idea about a character that could manipulate shadows. The marriage of those inspriations became the Shadow Saga series.

  3. I've asked several other authors about this, but I wanted to get your perspective on it. I received a PDF copy of Shadow's Son from your publicist, and I'm assuming that at some point you'll have an e-book version out for Kindle, Nook, etc. What's your take on the ebook industry? Is it good for writers, bad for writers, or just different, and do you see it changing things over the next few years?

I think it's too early to tell where the ebook revolution is heading, but I hope it will be good for writers. A new format means a new chance to reach readers, and that's exciting.

  4. I love books about assassins. There's just something cool about characters who are hired killers, and there always will be. That being said, do you have a favorite character in Shadow's Son? If so, who is it and why?

I suppose I identify most closely with Caim, the assassin. He makes no excuses about his life or his profession. But I also like his ghostly companion, Kit. Both were fun to write.

  5. Question five isn't really a question, so much as an opportunity for you to shamelessly plug something, anything, that you think is really cool and want to share with the world. 

If you're in the Atlanta area this September, come to Dragon*Con and buy me a beer.

  6. There seems to be a distinct craving in the reading world right now for books that are just a little grittier, a little darker, than the epic fantasy of the 80s. Do you think that's a trend that will continue? Is there a boundary that authors just shouldn't cross in terms of sex, language, or violence?
I try not to think about trends, or boundaries. You have to write what speaks to you. Sometimes that might rub some folks the wrong way. That's life.

Personally, I prefer the grit because it feels more authentic to me. Fantasies about knights and princesses and magical unicorns have their place, but I like a smorgasbord of options when I go to the bookstore.

  7. For the sake of the aspiring writers out there (go me and a billion other people!) that want to gobble up the knowledge of The Mighty Published Ones, could you take us through your writing process? You know, do you outline, how long do you write, what software do you use, any quirks in outlining, writing, blah blah blah.

I write in the evenings because I look after our preschool-age son during the day. I aim for about four new pages per day when writing. I outline all my books scene by scene. Once I have a workable outline, I write the first draft all the way through without editing (much). Then begins a series of revisions aimed at different parts of the book (theme, plotting, language, character development, etc). Then I let my beta readers tear into it. Then I send it to my agent and my editor, and they suggest more things to change.

  8. Certainly you're hard at work on sequels to Shadow's Son, but do you have anything else in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
My hands are full with the trilogy at the moment, but there are fragments of other novels in various states of completion. I'm not sure which I will get to next.

  9. When I did an interview with Seanan Mcguire a while back, I asked her about why zombie fiction is so popular right now. Now I ask you, what is it going to take to get the genre that you're writing in back into that spot of absolute domination that the zombies and vampires hold right now?

More excellent books. Hopefully, I can be a part of the S&S revival of fantasy, but you can't think in terms of trend. I write the kind of books that I would want to read. That's where it starts. After that, all you can do is hope that some other folks want to come along for the ride.
10. Finally, if you were an assassin sent back in time, who would be your target and why?
Doesn't matter. No women, no children. Other than that, the only thing that matters is the paycheck.


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